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6 Reasons Microsurveys Are a Trend to Watch

July 12, 2016

Our Chief Technology Officer, Tom Lancaster, continues his analysis of trends with an article on the Greenbook blog on the rise of microsurveys. His first piece, “What Automation Means for Healthcare Market Researchers,” was on the report’s brand new “adoption of automation” section.

Microsurveys are indeed enjoying wider adoption. They are closely related to mobile surveys, which are now a mainstream practice. In this commentary, originally published on the Greenbook blog, Tom talks about the present and future role of microsurveys in market research:

The latest Greenbook Research Industry Trends (GRIT) Report confirms that microsurveys have gone from being a buzzed-about approach the industry was considering, to one that’s real and here today. Not only have they gained tremendously in popularity – microsurveys are overtaking other survey methods that have enjoyed greater buzz, like behavioral models, biometrics or wearables-based research.

“The two approaches that show the largest growth in adoption are Mobile Surveys and Microsurveys, underscoring the trend towards agile research,” GRIT states (page 18). Micro and Mobile Survey use are up 10 percent since early 2015, with more than one-third reporting they are currently using these methods and another quarter stating that they’re considering it.

This trend is in large part due to the increasing difficulty in reaching prospective respondents, or what the GRIT report calls “the single largest area of concern for the industry.” According to one market research executive: “There are demographic groups who are simply refusing to engage in research these days: high-end C-suite, young males and essentially anyone who is busy.”

Anyone who is busy. Sound like anyone you know or want to reach?

Microsurveys, as the name suggests, are brief—usually 10 or fewer questions that can be answered in minutes. They’re closely related to mobile surveys, which are formatted for easy participation from a smartphone or other mobile devices. But there’s more to a successful microsurvey than just getting the font size right.

The essence of microsurveys is meeting respondents where they are and on their terms. The “where” part is relatively easy—mobile-friendly, responsive design solves for that. On their terms, however, requires an approach to market research that centers around respect for a respondent’s time. Precious few people are willing to answer the mile-long questionnaires still so common in traditional surveys, no matter what the format. But they will answer a few questions, so the key is prioritization—focusing on what you most need to know now and saving other inquiries for later, with “later” being as soon as the next day.

Many companies accustomed to using long surveys were skeptical at first of the micro approach. As they started using microsurvey technology, however, they began to wonder why they’d always felt the need to ask so many questions. They quickly realized six very real and immediate benefits:

  1. Paring your list of questions down to an essential few focuses the survey and increases response rates and speed.
  2. Respondent feedback is available almost immediately.
  3. Data is far less likely to be skewed by over- or under-representation of certain groups based on willingness to participate.
  4. Because microsurveys are convenient, respondents are more likely to participate more often.
  5. When a microsurvey yields unexpected results, you can drill down with follow-up questions in another survey for the same group or different groups, or both.
  6. And, respondents are more likely to respond quickly, making it easier to get first impressions after, say, a product launch, sales rep visit, or a conference.

Market research has always relied on putting good questions to the right people. Microsurveys make this easier and more cost-effective than ever, and offer the kind of flexibility and immediacy so elusive to traditional long-form surveys. We expect future GRIT reports to show even more widespread adoption.

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